Dealing with Janus

I think right now of Janus: the god with two faces, one looking forward and one back. To me he’s a god of transformation and he sits right in the painful middle of it.

January has been a difficult month.  I have succeeded and failed. Succeeded in writing five stories in as many weeks and failed to feel good about them. The world is too much with me. 2016 has made me aware all too clearly of the precious nature of every day and every hour and yet …

I have gone dark.

I am discovering that a bereavement doesn’t happen the same to us all and that numbness can last a very long time. I thought I was coping fine by carrying on and living. What I didn’t expect was that I was frozen up. A safety mechanism to survive.

Over the holidays, I unthawed. I learned that grief is insidious. If you don’t deal with it, it won’t go away.

I discovered grief still waiting right there at my door. It was hard because I wasn’t prepared for it still to be there. I was caught off guard and swept off my feet by such a feeling of loss that I didn’t know how to recover.

Every conversation I had with family and friends pointed me at it. Every book I read and every story assignment I undertook made me want to tear up. (Now I know why ‘tear’ and ‘tear’ are the same word.) The loss of great icons stirred me up and pushed my nose into grief and into fear and into the belief that my work felt worthless. Stupid, I told myself. You’ve dealt with this fine for over a year. You’ve dealt with this in both your careers as an educator and as an author.

I told myself others feel the same. I wasn’t alone. But I was.

When grief and depression hit it’s dark. Somehow you know that all the friends in the world can’t really understand your pain. They might understand pain but your pain is one step removed from them–thank goodness. I would never want to be an empath.

Friends or family members might give you a warm hug, or listen while you sob your heart out, and that can help for awhile. They give you stairs to pull yourself up on. But you are the only one who can pull yourself up to stay. It’s your will and yours alone that will keep you moving. You can climb out or think about climbing out, or you can tell yourself it’s too painful.

I knew if anybody was going to pull me out of the dark it would have to be me–for me. For me, because what I needed to understand was: I had to be worth it to myself. Not just the family who would be hurt, or my dear departed sister who was so proud of me. I understand that holding on to grief undermines self-worth. It pushes down and pushes out everything else that used to be important.

I had to deal with it.

Here are two postings that helped a lot:

Yet as I think about the fact that things are constantly changing and that grief will pass I also think on this: I only have this moment. Life is lived in moments. Every moment is a small infinity. If the infinity I am living in right now is pain how do I get out of that darkness into light that isn’t a part of that moment? That thought moved me here:

When someone who was entirely meshed with your life dies, when someone who was entirely meshed with your life leaves you, even if it isn’t through death, it’s inevitable you will feel a part of you is gone and you might desperately be wishing to reclaim that part of you. But I know now that’s impossible. As every moment passes we are changed and transformed. The one who went away through death, divorce, or anger is changing too, wherever they are. I must wish my dear one well in her transformation.

Moment by infinite moment I move away from what I was then at the moment she stepped through that door and I became that person with the hole in my heart—to something else. I can let that hole in my heart be filled with grief or I can image that grief and see it turn into light, transparent and moving.

My grief can be a hole. Or a revelation.

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